What Is Sensory Marketing? Sensory Marketing In A Nutshell

Sensory marketing describes any marketing campaign designed to appeal to the five human senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are enabling marketers to design fun, interactive, and immersive sensory marketing brand experiences. Long term, businesses must develop sensory marketing campaigns that are relevant and effective in eCommerce.

DefinitionSensory Marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on engaging consumers’ senses to enhance their perception and experience of a brand or product. It recognizes that human senses, including sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, play a vital role in consumer decision-making and emotional connection. Sensory marketing aims to create a multisensory brand experience that leaves a lasting impression on consumers.
Key ConceptsMultisensory Experience: Sensory marketing aims to engage multiple senses simultaneously, creating a holistic brand experience. Emotional Connection: It leverages sensory stimuli to evoke emotions and strengthen the emotional bond between consumers and the brand. Perception Enhancement: By optimizing sensory elements, it enhances how consumers perceive a product or service. Brand Recall: Sensory cues can trigger brand recall and recognition. Influence on Behavior: Sensory experiences can influence consumer behavior, including purchase decisions. Cross-Modal Effects: Interactions between different senses can create unique effects and associations.
Sensory ElementsSensory marketing utilizes various elements: 1. Visual: Color, packaging, and visual aesthetics influence perception. 2. Auditory: Music, soundscapes, and audio branding affect mood and emotion. 3. Tactile: Texture, product feel, and haptic feedback create physical engagement. 4. Olfactory: Scents, such as fragrances in retail stores, impact mood and memory. 5. Gustatory: Taste, relevant in the food and beverage industry, influences product preference.
ApplicationsSensory marketing finds applications in various industries: 1. Retail: Creating pleasing store environments through lighting, music, and scents. 2. Food and Beverage: Leveraging taste and smell to enhance product appeal. 3. Automotive: Focusing on interior design, comfort, and engine sounds. 4. Cosmetics: Using textures, fragrances, and packaging to create sensory appeal. 5. Hospitality: Designing hotels for sensory comfort.
AdvantagesSensory marketing offers several advantages: 1. Differentiation: It sets brands apart by creating unique sensory experiences. 2. Emotional Connection: Engaging senses can evoke positive emotions and attachment to the brand. 3. Memory and Recall: Sensory cues enhance brand recall and recognition. 4. Purchase Intent: Positive sensory experiences can influence consumer purchase decisions. 5. Brand Loyalty: It fosters brand loyalty through memorable experiences.
ChallengesChallenges in sensory marketing include: 1. Consistency: Maintaining consistent sensory elements across various touchpoints. 2. Cross-Cultural Differences: Sensory preferences can vary across cultures. 3. Overstimulation: Excessive sensory stimuli can overwhelm consumers. 4. Ethical Considerations: Ensuring that sensory tactics align with ethical standards.
ExamplesNotable examples include Apple’s product packaging and design, which engages visual and tactile senses, and Starbucks’ coffee aroma, which creates a distinct olfactory experience. Coca-Cola’s sound branding is another example, utilizing auditory elements.
MeasurementSensory marketing success can be measured through consumer surveys, sales data, brand recognition, and customer feedback related to sensory experiences. Advances in neuromarketing also offer insights into consumers’ neural responses to sensory stimuli.
ConclusionSensory Marketing leverages human senses to enhance consumer perception, evoke emotions, and create memorable brand experiences. By strategically incorporating sensory elements such as visual aesthetics, soundscapes, and fragrances, brands can differentiate themselves, foster emotional connections with consumers, and influence purchase decisions. However, it requires consistency, cultural sensitivity, and ethical considerations to be effective. In an increasingly competitive market, sensory marketing can provide a powerful tool for brands seeking to leave a lasting impression on consumers.

Understanding sensory marketing

There has been a lot of research over the past few decades into how the five senses can affect consumer purchase decisions.

The sum total of this research has resulted in a new field called sensory marketing, which seeks to relate to consumers on an emotional level via the five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound.

Sensory marketing was once confined to brick-and-mortar businesses that endeavored to engage shoppers and keep them in the store for as long as possible.

With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the shift toward eCommerce, some question whether sensory marketing is still as relevant as it once was.

The good news is that sensory marketing is still a valuable tool in the arsenal of any modern business.

Visual campaigns will always be popular online, but evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are also enabling marketers to design fun, interactive, and immersive brand experiences that engage other senses.

Sensory marketing examples

All five senses play an important role in creating an emotional association with a brand.

Let’s take a look at how sensory marketing is playing out in the real world.


Taste encompasses the five sensations of sour, sweet, umami, bitter, and salty.

When an individual tastes a product, they use the other four senses in unison to determine whether they enjoy something.

For the business, it is important to move beyond the basic and widespread technique of product sampling toward creating a memorable experience.

New Orleans beer brand Second Line gave consumers the chance to sample a new IPA by taking selfies with branded props and be directed to the nearest store that stocked the beer.

While consumers came to taste the beer, they also got to experience the hospitality that the southern part of America is famous for.


How can the consumer fall in love with a product or service with a hands-on experience?

Duct tape brand Duck Tape launched the Duck Tape Rolls Across America Tour to create brand awareness, engage consumers, and increase sales at retail locations.

A large and very bright green bus toured the country with a range of interactive activities for duct tape enthusiasts, including product tutorials, fun craft projects, and life-size sculptures.


Most consumers appreciate the smell of baked bread in a supermarket or a signature scent in the cosmetics section of a department store.

These smell-based experiences are no accident, with companies using them to connect consumers with some of their earliest and fondest memories. 

American bakery chain Cinnabon deliberately locates its ovens near the front of each store to ensure the aroma of fresh-baked goods permeates the surrounding area.

The tactic has proven so successful that some stores maintain the scent throughout the day by warming sheets of cinnamon and brown sugar.


The role of sight in consumer purchasing does not need much explanation.

Consumers recognize brands, logos, images, text, and even color schemes in a mostly subconscious process. 

Traditional strategies favor simple product displays, which work to some extent.

However, modern businesses should also consider art, videos, advertising banners, magazines, whitepapers, and online catalogs.

To create that much-desired emotional experience, visual stimuli can also be paired with auditory stimuli.

The Reunion Tower affords consumers commanding views of the city of Dallas from a height of 561 feet.

While this experience is a feast for the eyes, visitors can also download a virtual reality app that enhances the traditional experience of looking out from a tall structure.


Sound is also a widely used technique in marketing, though the efficacy of radio jingles and television advertisements is debatable.

Nevertheless, studies have shown that music is an important emotion regulator and that 75% of consumers will remain in a store if they enjoy the music that is being played.

To that end, Victoria Secret broadcasts classical music in its stores to create an atmosphere suggestive of a luxury shopping experience.

Case Studies


  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Shops: Ben & Jerry’s allows customers to sample various ice cream flavors before making a purchase. This hands-on experience engages the sense of taste.
  • Starbucks’ Seasonal Offerings: Starbucks introduces seasonal beverages like Pumpkin Spice Latte, appealing to the sense of taste and creating anticipation for these limited-time treats.


  • Lush’s In-Store Experience: Lush, a cosmetics brand, invites customers to touch, feel, and try their products in-store, enhancing the tactile experience.
  • Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign: Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign encourages women to embrace their natural beauty. The use of real women and unretouched images appeals to the sense of touch by promoting self-acceptance.


  • Abercrombie & Fitch Stores: Abercrombie & Fitch stores are known for their signature scent, which is sprayed throughout the store. The distinctive fragrance creates a sensory connection with the brand.
  • Café de Starbucks: Starbucks stores often have the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, enticing passersby and drawing them into the store.


  • Apple’s Product Displays: Apple’s minimalist and aesthetically pleasing product displays in their stores appeal to the sense of sight. The sleek design and visual presentation create a sense of sophistication.
  • Coca-Cola’s Iconic Red Color: The use of the iconic red color in Coca-Cola’s branding and packaging instantly captures attention and recognition, appealing to the sense of sight.


  • McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” Jingle: McDonald’s catchy jingle is a classic example of sound-based marketing. It’s memorable and reinforces the brand’s message.
  • ASMR Videos by Brands: Brands like IKEA and KFC have created ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) videos that use soothing sounds to engage viewers’ auditory senses.

Combining Senses:

  • Luxury Car Test Drives: Luxury car dealerships often combine the senses of sight, touch, and even sound by offering customers test drives in well-designed vehicles with premium interiors.
  • Wine Tasting Events: Wineries create sensory experiences by combining taste, smell, and sight during wine tasting events, where customers can sample different wines in picturesque settings.

Key takeaways

  • Sensory marketing describes any marketing campaign designed to appeal to the five human senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound.
  • Sensory marketing encompasses a range of creative strategies across the five human senses. For best results, sensory marketing should incorporate at least two different senses in a single campaign.

Key Highlights of Sensory Marketing:

  • Definition: Sensory marketing focuses on appealing to the five human senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. It aims to create emotional connections with consumers by engaging multiple senses.
  • Evolution in eCommerce: While sensory marketing was initially associated with brick-and-mortar businesses, it remains relevant in eCommerce. Technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things enable businesses to design interactive and immersive sensory experiences online.
  • Research on Consumer Behavior: Sensory marketing is based on extensive research on how the five senses influence consumer purchasing decisions. It aims to create emotional associations with brands through sensory experiences.
  • Examples of Sensory Marketing:
    • Taste: Brands like Second Line engage consumers by offering product samples within a broader experience, such as themed events.
    • Touch: Companies like Duck Tape use hands-on experiences, like interactive tours, to connect consumers with their products.
    • Smell: Businesses, like Cinnabon, intentionally use scents to evoke memories and create an inviting atmosphere.
    • Sight: Visual elements, such as branding, color schemes, and immersive visuals, are crucial in creating emotional connections.
    • Sound: Music and auditory elements can significantly impact the shopping experience, encouraging consumers to stay longer.
  • Combining Senses: Effective sensory marketing often incorporates multiple senses within a single campaign to create a more profound emotional impact.

Visual Marketing Glossary

Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy where the marketing and sales departments come together to create personalized buying experiences for high-value accounts. Account-based marketing is a business-to-business (B2B) approach in which marketing and sales teams work together to target high-value accounts and turn them into customers.


Ad Ops – also known as Digital Ad Operations – refers to systems and processes that support digital advertisements’ delivery and management. The concept describes any process that helps a marketing team manage, run, or optimize ad campaigns, making them an integrating part of the business operations.

AARRR Funnel

Venture capitalist, Dave McClure, coined the acronym AARRR which is a simplified model that enables to understand what metrics and channels to look at, at each stage for the users’ path toward becoming customers and referrers of a brand.

Affinity Marketing

Affinity marketing involves a partnership between two or more businesses to sell more products. Note that this is a mutually beneficial arrangement where one brand can extend its reach and enhance its credibility in association with the other.

Ambush Marketing

As the name suggests, ambush marketing raises awareness for brands at events in a covert and unexpected fashion. Ambush marketing takes many forms, one common element, the brand advertising their products or services has not paid for the right to do so. Thus, the business doing the ambushing attempts to capitalize on the efforts made by the business sponsoring the event.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing describes the process whereby an affiliate earns a commission for selling the products of another person or company. Here, the affiliate is simply an individual who is motivated to promote a particular product through incentivization. The business whose product is being promoted will gain in terms of sales and marketing from affiliates.

Bullseye Framework

The bullseye framework is a simple method that enables you to prioritize the marketing channels that will make your company gain traction. The main logic of the bullseye framework is to find the marketing channels that work and prioritize them.

Brand Building

Brand building is the set of activities that help companies to build an identity that can be recognized by its audience. Thus, it works as a mechanism of identification through core values that signal trust and that help build long-term relationships between the brand and its key stakeholders.

Brand Dilution

According to inbound marketing platform HubSpot, brand dilution occurs “when a company’s brand equity diminishes due to an unsuccessful brand extension, which is a new product the company develops in an industry that they don’t have any market share in.” Brand dilution, therefore, occurs when a brand decreases in value after the company releases a product that does not align with its vision, mission, or skillset. 

Brand Essence Wheel

The brand essence wheel is a templated approach businesses can use to better understand their brand. The brand essence wheel has obvious implications for external brand strategy. However, it is equally important in simplifying brand strategy for employees without a strong marketing background. Although many variations of the brand essence wheel exist, a comprehensive wheel incorporates information from five categories: attributes, benefits, values, personality, brand essence.

Brand Equity

The brand equity is the premium that a customer is willing to pay for a product that has all the objective characteristics of existing alternatives, thus, making it different in terms of perception. The premium on seemingly equal products and quality is attributable to its brand equity.

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is about creating a mental real estate in the mind of the target market. If successful, brand positioning allows a business to gain a competitive advantage. And it also works as a switching cost in favor of the brand. Consumers recognizing a brand might be less prone to switch to another brand.

Business Storytelling

Business storytelling is a critical part of developing a business model. Indeed, the way you frame the story of your organization will influence its brand in the long-term. That’s because your brand story is tied to your brand identity, and it enables people to identify with a company.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the most powerful commercial activities which focuses on leveraging content production (text, audio, video, or other formats) to attract a targeted audience. Content marketing focuses on building a strong brand, but also to convert part of that targeted audience into potential customers.

Customer Lifetime Value

One of the first mentions of customer lifetime value was in the 1988 book Database Marketing: Strategy and Implementation written by Robert Shaw and Merlin Stone. Customer lifetime value (CLV) represents the value of a customer to a company over a period of time. It represents a critical business metric, especially for SaaS or recurring revenue-based businesses.

Customer Segmentation

Customer segmentation is a marketing method that divides the customers in sub-groups, that share similar characteristics. Thus, product, marketing and engineering teams can center the strategy from go-to-market to product development and communication around each sub-group. Customer segments can be broken down is several ways, such as demographics, geography, psychographics and more.

Developer Marketing

Developer marketing encompasses tactics designed to grow awareness and adopt software tools, solutions, and SaaS platforms. Developer marketing has become the standard among software companies with a platform component, where developers can build applications on top of the core software or open software. Therefore, engaging developer communities has become a key element of marketing for many digital businesses.

Digital Marketing Channels

A digital channel is a marketing channel, part of a distribution strategy, helping an organization to reach its potential customers via electronic means. There are several digital marketing channels, usually divided into organic and paid channels. Some organic channels are SEO, SMO, email marketing. And some paid channels comprise SEM, SMM, and display advertising.

Field Marketing

Field marketing is a general term that encompasses face-to-face marketing activities carried out in the field. These activities may include street promotions, conferences, sales, and various forms of experiential marketing. Field marketing, therefore, refers to any marketing activity that is performed in the field.

Funnel Marketing

interaction with a brand until they become a paid customer and beyond. Funnel marketing is modeled after the marketing funnel, a concept that tells the company how it should market to consumers based on their position in the funnel itself. The notion of a customer embarking on a journey when interacting with a brand was first proposed by Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. Funnel marketing typically considers three stages of a non-linear marketing funnel. These are top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU), and bottom of the funnel (BOFU). Particular marketing strategies at each stage are adapted to the level of familiarity the consumer has with a brand.

Go-To-Market Strategy

A go-to-market strategy represents how companies market their new products to reach target customers in a scalable and repeatable way. It starts with how new products/services get developed to how these organizations target potential customers (via sales and marketing models) to enable their value proposition to be delivered to create a competitive advantage.


The term “greenwashing” was first coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986 at a time when most consumers received their news from television, radio, and print media. Some companies took advantage of limited public access to information by portraying themselves as environmental stewards – even when their actions proved otherwise. Greenwashing is a deceptive marketing practice where a company makes unsubstantiated claims about an environmentally-friendly product or service.

Grassroots Marketing

Grassroots marketing involves a brand creating highly targeted content for a particular niche or audience. When an organization engages in grassroots marketing, it focuses on a small group of people with the hope that its marketing message is shared with a progressively larger audience.

Growth Marketing

Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that seeks to utilize low-cost and sometimes unconventional tactics that are high impact. First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same title, guerrilla marketing works best on existing customers who are familiar with a brand or product and its particular characteristics.

Hunger Marketing

Hunger marketing is a marketing strategy focused on manipulating consumer emotions. By bringing products to market with an attractive price point and restricted supply, consumers have a stronger desire to make a purchase.

Integrated Communication

Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is an approach used by businesses to coordinate and brand their communication strategies. Integrated marketing communication takes separate marketing functions and combines them into one, interconnected approach with a core brand message that is consistent across various channels. These encompass owned, earned, and paid media. Integrated marketing communication has been used to great effect by companies such as Snapchat, Snickers, and Domino’s.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.

Integrated Marketing

Integrated marketing describes the process of delivering consistent and relevant content to a target audience across all marketing channels. It is a cohesive, unified, and immersive marketing strategy that is cost-effective and relies on brand identity and storytelling to amplify the brand to a wider and wider audience.

Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is a term to describe the multi-faceted approach to a complete and effective marketing plan. Traditionally, this plan included the four Ps of marketing: price, product, promotion, and place. But the exact makeup of a marketing mix has undergone various changes in response to new technologies and ways of thinking. Additions to the four Ps include physical evidence, people, process, and even politics.

Marketing Myopia

Marketing myopia is the nearsighted focus on selling goods and services at the expense of consumer needs. Marketing myopia was coined by Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt in 1960. Originally, Levitt described the concept in the context of organizations in high-growth industries that become complacent in their belief that such industries never fail.

Marketing Personas

Marketing personas give businesses a general overview of key segments of their target audience and how these segments interact with their brand. Marketing personas are based on the data of an ideal, fictional customer whose characteristics, needs, and motivations are representative of a broader market segment.

Meme Marketing

Meme marketing is any marketing strategy that uses memes to promote a brand. The term “meme” itself was popularized by author Richard Dawkins over 50 years later in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. In the book, Dawkins described how ideas evolved and were shared across different cultures. The internet has enabled this exchange to occur at an exponential rate, with the first modern memes emerging in the late 1990s and early 2000s.


Microtargeting is a marketing strategy that utilizes consumer demographic data to identify the interests of a very specific group of individuals. Like most marketing strategies, the goal of microtargeting is to positively influence consumer behavior.

Multi-Channel Marketing

Multichannel marketing executes a marketing strategy across multiple platforms to reach as many consumers as possible. Here, a platform may refer to product packaging, word-of-mouth advertising, mobile apps, email, websites, or promotional events, and all the other channels that can help amplify the brand to reach as many consumers as possible.

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-level marketing (MLM), otherwise known as network or referral marketing, is a strategy in which businesses sell their products through person-to-person sales. When consumers join MLM programs, they act as distributors. Distributors make money by selling the product directly to other consumers. They earn a small percentage of sales from those that they recruit to do the same – often referred to as their “downline”.

Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure of the ability of a product or service to attract word-of-mouth advertising. NPS is a crucial part of any marketing strategy since attracting and then retaining customers means they are more likely to recommend a business to others.


Neuromarketing information is collected by measuring brain activity related to specific brain functions using sophisticated and expensive technology such as MRI machines. Some businesses also choose to make inferences of neurological responses by analyzing biometric and heart-rate data. Neuromarketing is the domain of large companies with similarly large budgets or subsidies. These include Frito-Lay, Google, and The Weather Channel.


Newsjacking as a marketing strategy was popularised by David Meerman Scott in his book Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. Newsjacking describes the practice of aligning a brand with a current event to generate media attention and increase brand exposure.

Niche Marketing

A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.

Push vs. Pull Marketing

We can define pull and push marketing from the perspective of the target audience or customers. In push marketing, as the name suggests, you’re promoting a product so that consumers can see it. In a pull strategy, consumers might look for your product or service drawn by its brand.

Real-Time Marketing

Real-time marketing is as exactly as it sounds. It involves in-the-moment marketing to customers across any channel based on how that customer is interacting with the brand.

Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing involves businesses and their brands forming long-term relationships with customers. The focus of relationship marketing is to increase customer loyalty and engagement through high-quality products and services. It differs from short-term processes focused solely on customer acquisition and individual sales.

Reverse Marketing

Reverse marketing describes any marketing strategy that encourages consumers to seek out a product or company on their own. This approach differs from a traditional marketing strategy where marketers seek out the consumer.


Remarketing involves the creation of personalized and targeted ads for consumers who have already visited a company’s website. The process works in this way: as users visit a brand’s website, they are tagged with cookies that follow the users, and as they land on advertising platforms where retargeting is an option (like social media platforms) they get served ads based on their navigation.

Sensory Marketing

Sensory marketing describes any marketing campaign designed to appeal to the five human senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are enabling marketers to design fun, interactive, and immersive sensory marketing brand experiences. Long term, businesses must develop sensory marketing campaigns that are relevant and effective in eCommerce.

Services Marketing

Services marketing originated as a separate field of study during the 1980s. Researchers realized that the unique characteristics of services required different marketing strategies to those used in the promotion of physical goods. Services marketing is a specialized branch of marketing that promotes the intangible benefits delivered by a company to create customer value.

Sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing is a marketing strategy skewed toward offering a great experience to existing customers and incentivizing them to share it with other potential customers. That is one of the most effective forms of marketing as it enables a company to gain traction based on existing customers’ referrals. When repeat customers become a key enabler for the brand this is one of the best organic and sustainable growth marketing strategies.

360 Marketing

360 marketing is a marketing campaign that utilizes all available mediums, channels, and consumer touchpoints. 360 marketing requires the business to maintain a consistent presence across multiple online and offline channels. This ensures it does not miss potentially lucrative customer segments. By its very nature, 360 marketing describes any number of different marketing strategies. However, a broad and holistic marketing strategy should incorporate a website, SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media, public relations, in-store relations, and traditional forms of advertising such as television.

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